A woman, married for years to an emotionally and physically abusive husband is beaten nearly to death by that husband. The only thing that stops him from going too far this time is that he slips in her blood and falls while trying to kick her in the head. His fall throws him back and he bashes his head on the way down. The head injury is life threatening. The abused woman is battered and broken, but will survive.
Does she owe her abuser any kind of compassion, understanding or forgiveness now that he is also suffering and my not live? If he survives, does she owe him any effort to wish him well with compassionate understanding of the suffering he experienced because of the fall? What about when he continues to insist she was to blame or refuses to admit to any wrong doing or that his actions caused harm?
In the above fictional scenario, the majority of people would agree that the obvious answer to that would be no (or I would desperately hope the majority would, but I’m no longer surprised when I’m wrong in that hope), she has no obligation to her abuser.
Sadly, this is exactly what I keep seeing people out there asking others to do right now.
I’ve seen lots of posts in the last few days about working with the other side and trying to see things from their perspective. At first, I struggled to articulate why this stance bothered me so much until it dawned on me that it is essentially asking those that have felt the most harmed and abused by the last 4 years (and honestly a lot longer because this didn’t spring up out of thin air) to just overlook all that harm and abuse when those doing the harm and abuse are still refusing to admit to the damage they’ve done. That once again, the abused are the ones being asked to give in and compromise and do all the work in a one-sided abusive relationship, to show compassion and forgiveness and understanding to those that have not once shown the same to them.
They are being asked to overlook and excuse years of discrimination, racism, hate, violence, neglect, lies, and corruption. To accept and compromise with people that want to take away their rights or even their lives, people who view them as not worthy of being treated as an equal human being, when making any kind of compromise only gives them the power to do more harm.
To expect that is to normalize and excuse the abuse. To deny that it never happened. It puts the blame and the responsibility to repair the problems on the shoulders of the abused. Sadly, this is how abusive relationships are often viewed and treated. That the abused should “be the better person”. No. They have ALWAYS been the better person and they do not have to keep carrying that burden for others.
Anyone that has ever lived in an abusive relationship see’s how wrong that is. How unhealthy and damaging. When one side of a relationship is the only one to ever give or compromise, you eventually lose everything you are if you don’t leave that relationship.
To ask for compassion, understanding and forgiveness for those that lost and to say that the way forward is to find compromise is asking the abused to wipe the slate clean of the abuser and to give up more of themselves in the process. Especially when the other side has spent years burying themselves so deeply in their stubborn cement it would take a wrecking ball attached to an atomic bomb to get them to move even an inch all while denying that they are doing so and pointing the finger and screaming at the abused for not compromising enough.
Compromise is essential to any healthy relationship, but it must be a balanced compromise. This country has been way out of balance for a long time and we aren’t going to be healthy until that balance is allowed to shift.
When you ask the abused to give more than they have, something breaks. This vote is a Band-Aid placed in an attempt to heal what is breaking, but it won’t fix it if the people doing the abuse don’t start admitting their part in the damage and working to help the rest of us fix it.
I have to wonder if those that are asking for people to “see things from the other perspective” if they have done so themselves. If in asking for everyone to show compassion and understanding know what they are actually asking and how much a part of the problem they are.